Mullen has Bulldogs feeling confident

Mullen has Bulldogs feeling confident

Published Jul. 18, 2012 7:11 p.m. ET


HOOVER, Ala. -- The Mississippi State Bulldogs are in a tough spot.

They play in the toughest division in the toughest conference in college football. Frankly, it's difficult to sustain a lasting confidence.

But the Bulldogs don't seem fazed -- coach Dan Mullen has them believing they can beat everyone they play this season.

“We played Alabama (24-7 loss) and LSU (19-6 loss) better than anyone else in the country and they played in the national championship,” quarterback Tyler Russell said Wednesday at the SEC Football Media Days. “That gave us a lot of confidence heading into the offseason.”

They have a right to be confident. A few big plays at the end of a couple of close losses and their season would be viewed in a completely different light.

They can also be confident because they might have the most underrated player in the country in Johnthan Banks.

“Banks is the best defensive back in the country,” said Russell. “Without a doubt.”

Bold words considering Tyrann Mathieu plays a few miles south, but coming from a player who's seen and played against both, Russell's words carry some weight.

Having that kind of player breeds confidence, the kind of confidence Mullen has been trying to install since he first got here.

“I think that's something we really embraced when we first got to Mississippi State, and it was just a confidence, not just in the team but in our athletic administration, our University administration, our student body, our fan base, and I think we've changed that,” Mullen said.

It's rubbing off on his players.

“Coach Mullen can do it all,” Banks said. “He went undefeated for a whole season at Utah, he won national championships at Florida, so he can tell us what it's like to get there, he knows what it takes to get there, and we believe in what he's doing.”

That belief is what Mullen hopes will bring his program to the next level this season.

“Our guys go into every single game, our fans go into every single game and they expect us to win that game,” Mullen said. “And it doesn't matter matter who we're playing, they expect to win and I think that's part of it and that'll lead us to break on through to the other side.”

All The Doors references aside, the Bulldogs have what it takes to surprise a few teams this season. With an experienced quarterback, a dominant cornerback and a coach who has everyone believing they can win, all it's going to take is one upset for this team to start rolling.

Now all they have to do is go out and perform.